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All talk, little action, on sentencing reform

For a few years now, state and federal lawmakers around the nation have been working on sentencing reform and the elimination of mandatory-minimum sentences.

Even “tough on crime” conservatives, like Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, have come to understand that mandatory minimums result in an assembly-line, one-size-fits-all form of justice that turns judges into rubber stamps. Under mandatory minimums, sentences are pre-determined by politicians who don’t want judges to consider the evidence in each individual case that comes before them.

In the Iowa Legislature, however, lawmakers are attempting to have it both ways. They’re pursuing legislation that would remove mandatory minimums for a handful of nonviolent offenses, but at the same time they have created additional mandatory minimums in cases of domestic abuse.

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